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The Shield are the most exciting thing goin' on in WWE, since CM Punk turned heel and nailed The Rock with a GTS at Raw 1000. Moreover, they are the second most exciting thing since Punk did his worked shoot (there's a common thread here: "Punk is God").
It's no surprise Punk would be involved in The Shield. After all, they are emerging in a huge way -- and I assume Punk and Paul Heyman are both pushing and helping to write for the trio behind the scenes.
After a few months of random attacks, a couple lost battles when WWE faces got clever on Raw, and some major pay-per-view (PPV) victories, The Shield are even bigger now than when they first came on the scene -- and they are showing no signs of atrophy.
The trio, consisting of Dean Ambrose, Seth Rollins, and Roman Reigns, were given a "W" over Ryback and Team Hell No when Ryback was hot as all hell. It was unexpected, but the WWE stuck with the young guys and put them over.
A few months later, as many of us started to wonder what they had planned next for The Shield; they were worked into a feud with Sheamus, who ended up teaming with a vengeful Ryback and a needing-something-to-do-until-Mania John Cena.
The superteam that I dubbed "Shenaback" (I'm taking credit for that, btw) was a guarantee to win. No way would John Cena lose heading into his rematch with Rocky. No way.
Then Ryback ate another pin and (most) the world was shocked. The following night they punished the trio again --sans Cena, plus Jericho.
After everything we have seen over these few months, it has come to the point that The Shield are expected to win. However, with a PPV victory over Cena -- just before WrestleMania as their latest major milestone -- one has to inquire even further, "Why are Ambrose, Rollins, and Reigns being gifted this?"
And why was no one else before them?
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"It's All Creative's Fault!"
In my experience roaming around the wrestling interwebz since 2004, when a wrestler fails to make it big, WWE Creative is often held responsible by the "IWC" (Internet Wrestling Community). Whether it was their fault or not, whether the wrestler had what it took to cut it or not -- it mattered not.
A great example would be Shelton Benjamin -- someone who, despite being pushed well and given legitimate wins over men like HHH and awesome matches with HBK and other top stars, was never as "huge" as many felt he should have been.
Nevertheless, there was always something missing with Benjamin. After he lost his singles Raw debut heat and people stopped caring, WWE tried to repackage him on a couple occasions to no luck.
Despite how much effort Creative put into Benjamin, and despite JR's best efforts to put him over every chance he got, it never grew as big as some felt it could have. Sometimes that happens. You could say it was Benjamin's fault for lacking that "it" factor, or you could say he needed mic work. You could even say none-of-the-above and just blame the WWE audience for failing to recognize what was in front of them.
Or you could do what many prefer: blame WWE itself.
Benjamin is an example of someone lacking one particular talent -- mic skills -- and that holding him back. It had nothing to do with Creative.
Other examples reflect different problems for the individual wrestlers involved.
A more recent one is Zack Ryder. Ryder is a talented guy, pretty charismatic, has some well-designed signature moves, works his gimmick well on the mic, and has a good work ethic, as evidenced by him willing himself via internet into a title reign.
So what gives? Well, Ryder isn't the one dude on the roster with those skills. It is a very competitive company with many talented men and women working to get TV time. WWE recognized, right from the very beginning, what they had with Ryder: a gravy train that might last five months, so they'd best ride it now.
And, that's what they did. When Ryder's mega push came and he was involved in a lot, I thought to myself, "He'll be a nobody in four months."
It was obvious they were using Ryder for what he was worth at the time that he was hot, but had no intention of keeping him there. Because that's what the WWE does: they push you, give you a shot, give you some time, and then let you float back to the undercard. It's up to you to keep yourself interesting and to continue to work for that time.
My recommendation to Ryder? Take your current off-screen identity of being a whiny little bitch and utilize it. Write a couple months of script where you come on Raw and complain that you used to be the biggest thing goin' and now no one cares about you. Turn yourself into a heel, stop smiling and waving for the fans, and pretend you're pissed off at everything.
Some guys can rethink, re-imagine, and rebuild. Others are one-trick ponies. It's true in every sport. A great example of always redefining? CM Punk.
How many gimmicks has CM Punk been through? Quite a number, including several face and heel incarnations of his standard "straight edge" gimmick. But who is CM Punk today? Do we even know that he is straight edge anymore? He has redefined himself from a sympathetic straight edge face, to an anti-authority face, to an egotistical heel, to a delusional madman in the course of a single year.
Last Spring, heading into 'Mania, Jericho was calling Punk's dad an alcoholic and claiming Punk loved the poison himself. Fast-forward a year and CM Punk is hugging a distraught Paul Heyman in the ring while the duo pretends that "The Best in the World" is still the real WWE Champion.
Four gimmicks in one year. Because that's what happens. Things get hot, and then they get cold. Certain wrestlers can keep a gimmick going for years, but such roles are reserved within the company for a few men based on their ability to sell merchandise (Cena), draw PPV buys (The Rock), and individual clout (Undertaker).
Even Triple H -- who can fit all three of the above exceptions -- has repackaged himself on a couple occasions since his last match with 'Taker. He said on Monday, "The Asskicker is back" after playing suit-and-tie COO for a while. Even a subtle change like that keeps his identity fresh and adds depth to his character.
If you want to stay hot, you need to stay ahead.
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Nexus and Wade Barrett
If you want to stay hot, it is also said that you need to avoid John Cena. Zack Ryder can attest to that.
A common group that people love to say some combination of Creative and John Cena destroyed is Nexus. It is no doubt that Cena buried them when the dust settled, but not before Nexus accrued a fair amount of heat and pinned John Cena on numerous occasions.
Yes, Cena ate clean, fair pinfalls during his Nexus feud. He was then forced to join Nexus when Barrett pinned him at Hell in a Cell. The finish there was not clean, but Barrett did manage a clean kick out of an AA -- nothing to scoff at.
Did Cena go over in the end of the feud? Sure. Of course. If Cena ever manages to get back involved with The Shield, one would expect a similar outcome.
If you take a look at Cena vs. Punk as an entirety, you could say Cena went over in the end of that as well. Punk got sketchy victories over Cena, never pinned him clean, and, now that Cena is back in the title scene, Punk lost to him fair-and-square, "1, 2, 3", in the middle of the ring last night (Feb. 25 on Raw).
This gives us Rocky/Cena Part II. Cena lost last year; but again, it looks like Cena will get his victory back and still go over Rocky "in the end."
Because John Cena goes over everyone in the end. Using that as an argument against why someone was unable to get over as a wrestler is hard to apply with consistency.
Does he beat some wrestlers in more disparaging a manner than others? Sure. But it's about how you respond, because everyone looking to make that step into the main event has to eat a Cena pin at one point or another. They either push forward, or show the company that they cannot hang.
Pinning Cena, therefore, is a huge milestone and you either capitalize on it thanks to the efforts you put in before and afterwards (CM Punk), or you do nothing with it because "wtf?" (Tensai), or you drop into the undercard and await a repackaging (Justin Gabriel).
Since the Nexus disbanded, what happened to the members? Some of them at least managed airtime because they repackaged themselves: David Otunga is a lawyer and Heath Slater formed 3MB. Neither has the overall talent to be huge, but give them credit for staying afloat.
Which brings us to guys like Barrett. Barrett may have been hot at one point, and people might think some combination of Cena and Punk "buried" him. But all gimmicks die. All storylines end. Exceptions to this are rare.
The trick is how you come out of it and how you move forward. Barrett, after his injury, came back as...I don't even know. The "Barrett Barrage"? Seriously? That's your gimmick? And we wonder why the guy doesn't get TV time? His gimmick is... nothing. That's not even a gimmick! Show some freakin' creativity. And get a proper finisher while you're at it. Bring out a British flag and start insulting people. Anything would be an improvement over what you're doing now.
Nexus and Barrett managed a decent amount of time in the main event scene, feuding with John Cena. Since then, the lone man with moderate success has been Barrett, who is being pushed more than the others because of his obvious charisma and size -- this despite his staleness in other categories.
But it is his staleness that has kept him from becoming a World Champion; and that's not Creative's fault. That's not John Cena's fault.
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The Future of The Shield
So while The Shield are not unique in getting a victory over Cena, no other group got a huge win at the PPV right before WrestleMania when John was set to face The Rock for the WWE Championship.
That's a bit of a bigger deal.
Which brings us to the title question: "Why The Shield and no one before them?"
I think a couple reasons.
First, from a booking perspective, it was very easy for John to move on from this while still letting The Shield benefit when Creative knows they have Cena scheduled to go clean over Punk two weeks later and reestablish himself as someone who can win the big one.
Second, and this is the big one, can any of you recall a time in recent memory where a group of guys ingrained themselves with such conviction? Where three young guns were such clear examples of "total packages"? Can you even name one single guy who impressed you as much as Ambrose, Rollins, or Reigns have as individuals?
If there is any reason The Shield should be gifted this victory over John Cena right before 'Mania when others were buried by him; if there is any reason WWE Creative should support The Shield's image while denying such support to others, it's because Dean Ambrose, Seth Rollins, and Roman Reigns are better.
The Shield are better than Nexus. The Shield are better than the Straight Edge Society (who rode Punk's charisma to success to begin with). The Shield are better than the Corre. The Shield are better than Zack Ryder.
When Benjamin emerged in 2004, at the age of 29 (almost 30), he was an undeniable in-ring talent, but his work on the stick was lacking.
When different members of Nexus were allowed to speak (other than Barrett), not a single one struck me as impressive. And when they wrestled, did we get the creativity, the quickness, or the feel of sheer destruction that we get from The Shield?
When Ryder had worn out his
welcome purpose, was he ever anything more than flavor of the month?
Long before The Shield even entered a ring for an official match, they were already more impressive than Nexus had ever been.
And their last two matches, with designed three man spots, remind me of playing Street Fighter or something. It's like a multi-hit, multi-person combo in real life. They are a SWAT team with the building mapped out and studied; moving from corner to corner, scanning every room with quick precision, and laying waste to their targets.
Ambrose, Rollins, and Reigns are three young guys of 26/27 years who bring their A-game on the stick, in the ring, and on camera in every single thing they have done since debuting.
When I look back on all the years of guys being buried by John Cena, and guys failing to hack it in the main event scene because of Creative, and I begin to question why that happened, I look at The Shield and say to myself:
"Oh, of course. Because those guys didn't deserve to go over John Cena. Those guys never deserved Creative's full-fledged protection as legitimate badasses."
The Shield does.
And one day -- when they break up, or are forced out of the main event, or conquered by some external force -- I have faith that these three guys will redefine themselves, repackage themselves, rethink themselves, and will prove that, in John Cena's WWE, they possess what only CM Punk did before them: staying power.
That is why, even if you never believed anyone before them could overcome Cena's tyrannical reign, you should "BELIEVE IN THE SHIELD!"